I met Karl Lange in 1994 on my first day as a volunteer counselor at Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang, a camp in Connecticut for kids with HIV and other serious diseases. He was 12 years old, three weeks out of the hospital after a battle with pneumonia and spending the first night of his life away from his mother, Pat. (By then, Karl was an HIV vet, having contract the disease from a transfusion as a toddler.) The next evening, he was rushed to the hospital with a fever of 105. Over the phone, he asked me two questions: What did the guys in the bunkhouse say? And would he be able to return to camp to swim?
I didn't speak to Karl again for four years; this was my loss, because I missed seeing him live life during those years the way it is supposed to be lived.
In seventh grade, he got tired of lying to his best friend and let the local newspaper tell northeastern Pennsylvania that he had HIV. An X-Files fanatic, he traveled to fan conventions nationwide. He became a mechanical whiz, fixing all things in the house. He decorated his room with Michael Jordan and Cindy Crawford poster, and begged his parents for an all-terrain vehicle.
But this past May, his blood pressure dropped suddenly. Doctors told Pat Lange they could insert a tube into his lungs to keep him breathing. "That's when I said enough is enough," she said. "Karl and I had talked about what we wanted, and I told them they were not going to cut my little boy." Karl died on May 27. "Now we wish he was around to tell us how all the gadgets in the house work," Pat Lange said.
POZ contributing writer Pat Califia and her partner, Matt Rice, will expand their family with a little bundle of joy. Baby Blake Chapman is due for a September debut.
After 17 months at its helm, Treatment Action Group (TAG) executive director Odell Mays II left the organization in August for Nielsen Communications.
Beltway heavyweight AIDS Action doubled its board to 60 members, adding reps from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, New Mexico AIDS Service and Palm Springs' Desert AIDS Project, among others.
After 12 years, AID Atlanta director of education Mark King left in August for the PR firm Hill & Knowlton.
Carole Heilman, PhD, was appointed director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at NIAID, a move up from deputy director of NIAID's Division of AIDS. Meanwhile, Jack Killen, director of NIAID's Division of AIDS, announced that he will leave next spring for a post at the NIH Clinical Department of Clinical Bioethics.
Louis Weisberg, longtime AIDS reporter and editor at Chicago's Windy City Times, defected from the gay weekly in August (with 12 other employees) to start a rival rag, Chicago Free Press, of which he'll be editor in chief.
PWA Peter McWilliams' new federal trial will begin November 16 in Los Angeles. McWilliams and codefendent Todd McCormick are facing eight felony counts for marijuana possession and sales, which the duo say were strictly for medicinal reasons.
Robert Stanners, 49, secretary of the Arlington County Democratic Committee of Virginia, died of AIDS July 9. In 1997 he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club. According to his partner, John Skehan, Stanners was a diligent politician, but painfully idealistic when it came to his health. "Death rarely crossed his mind," Skehan said. "He left systematically filed memos and plans for the 2000 campaign, but no funeral instructions." Stanners is also survived by his 23-year-old daughter, Gabrielle.
Debbie Thomas Bryan, 45, executive director of Atlanta's women-focused Diamond Network, died July 23 of complications from surgery compounded by HIV and hepatitis C. The Brooklyn-born Bryan was a well-known 12-year Georgian. "Debbie was one of the most inspiring 'sheroes' of the AIDS epidemic," said friend Walt Senterfit. "A month before her death, she was actively participating in meetings for October's National Women and HIV Conference." Bryan is survived by her husband and two sons.
David W. Curtis, 61, an AIDS Action board member and chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, died of AIDS August 7. He was also involved with Planned Parenthood and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. He was a cofounder of the Vermont Women's Health Center and the Samara Foundation, which supports gay and lesbian causes. He is survived by three children.
Martin Wong, 53, an artist known for his vibrant painting of Manhattan's Lower East Side in the unique style described as "visionary realism," died of AIDS August 12. Wong had a 1998 retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, and his work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.